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Is Your New Dental Implant Going To Rust?

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As you begin to prepare for your upcoming dental implant surgery, a thought may occur to you. Since the dental implant is metal (titanium alloy, to be specific), and it's going to be permanently installed in an environment where it will be continually exposed to moisture (inside your mouth, with the implant placed in your jaw bone)—how long before it starts to rust?


Sure, many metals begin to oxidize (rust) when exposed to moisture. But the resulting corrosion can vary wildly, with some metals (stainless steel is a notable example) being formulated to withstand the oxidation process. The titanium alloy screw inserted in your jaw (and its titanium alloy abutment, which connects the screw to its prosthetic tooth), is similar. Anyone waiting for their dental implant to rust will be waiting for quite some time. 

Limited Circumstances

Oxidation of a titanium alloy dental implant is extremely rare. It's so rare that it's not considered to be a known problem or drawback with implants. However, there are limited circumstances in which the implant's screw can oxidize. Luckily, it's pretty simple to avoid these circumstances. 

Galvanic Corrosion

It's possible for a dental implant's screw to rust via a process called galvanic corrosion. This is a chemical reaction between one piece of metal and another. It can only happen if you have existing metal dental restorations in your mouth. This could be a metal amalgam filling (containing an alloy made of zinc, copper, tin, and silver), porcelain fused to metal (PFM) dental crown, or even an entirely metal crown. Prior to receiving a dental implant, your dentist may recommend that you replace any metal restorations—especially metal amalgam fillings (which have been surpassed by tooth-colored resin fillings). This is not always essential.

Exposed Implant

It's not essential because galvanic corrosion can only be possible if a portion (however tiny) of the implant's screw is exposed. It should be firmly embedded in your jaw and gums, and so will only be exposed due to an accident, or due to gum recession caused by periodontal disease. This is another reason to maintain the highest possible standard of oral care. 

Your dentist may err on the side of caution and replace your metal amalgam fillings (which may be coming to the end of their service life anyway, as these fillings haven't been standard for quite some years). But even with existing metal restorations in your mouth, the risk of your implant rusting remains extremely low, and practically impossible if you're sure to take the best possible care of your teeth (including your new implant) and gums.

For more information about dental implants, contact a dentist in your area.